Tom Ridge, the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said Monday that President Trump’s military strike against Syria last week was “smart,” and sends a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that he should “proceed with caution.”
Continue Reading Below
“I thought [the attack] was tempered and I thought it was appropriate. It was a signal not just to Syria—but to a lot of other countries,” Ridge told FOX Business.
Ridge, who was named the first Director of the Office of Homeland Security by President George W. Bush following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, said Trump “inherited a mess” from the Obama administration.
“[This] might have been avoided if you had armed some of those militants [in Syria] early on in the Obama Administration, but [Obama] chose not to do that,” Ridge said.
Ridge said Obama sent the wrong message to Assad in 2013 when he did not send in U.S. military after the Syrian dictator crossed the “red line.”
“I was troubled by that because he basically said to Assad, I don’t care how many people you kill and I don’t care the means of their destruction —I don’t care. But if you use chemical weapons suddenly [America] will care. I think that was a horrible message. And then when they used chemical weapons, we didn’t do anything,” Ridge said. “I’m not too sure Russia would have bothered coming in to help Syria because at least they would have known there would have been some consequences.”
Ridge said Trump’s actions, “at least for the time being,” send a strong message to Assad, Putin and other countries that the Leader of the Free World does what he says.
“I think the tension level has heightened a little bit, but I also think that Putin realizes that he is dealing with a different administration now and he should proceed with caution,” said Ridge.